Opera Saratoga Launches New Digital Initiative - OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT!
In response to the ongoing restrictions on performances and public gatherings due to COVID-19, Opera Saratoga today launches a new, integrated series of online programs, OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! The combination of free and paid activities provide a wide variety of opportunities for local opera lovers of all ages, as well as Opera Saratoga's national and international followers, to enjoy diverse content created specifically for online engagement.
Opera Saratoga's focus in this initiative is to create new content rather than streaming past performances. "We have decided to launch programs for our audiences that have been created specifically for the way people engage online," explains Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director, Lawrence Edelson, "producing a combination of newly created video performances for social media, as well as new opportunities to enjoy and learn about opera that are more interactive. Opera Saratoga has always focused on building community. OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! was designed to allow us to do just that - connect digitally with our community. Each element of this initiative allows audiences to enjoy opera, classical vocal music, and musical theater in a different way, from short videos released every day throughout the summer featuring members of our Festival Artist program, to interactive trivia games, classes, and symposia, featuring guests from around the globe."
Most of the programs that are a part of OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! are free, but there are also some classes being offered that have a modest tuition fee, with scholarships available for those financially impacted by COVID-19. "While we consider it an important service to the community to provide everyone with free access to exciting digital content," says Edelson, "we also have to consider the sustainability of these initiatives. Just like we have traditionally offered a combination of free and ticketed live performances, as we turn our focus more robustly to the digital space, we need to find the right balance. Digital experiences are not meant to be a replacement for live performance, but the current situation has provided us with a catalyst to experiment, and to expand the ways we serve our community and continue sharing our love of opera."
Complete details about each of the six programs as part of OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! (Connect! Mentorship; Connect! Daily; Connect! Trivia; Connect! Kids; Connect! Classes; and Connect! Symposia) may be found online at www.operasaratoga.org/connect
OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! MENTORSHIP
Opera Saratoga is home of the second oldest young artist program in the country, with alumni singing around the world. Laurie Rogers, Director of the Young Artist Program and Head of Music Staff, works closely with Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson to customize assignments for each artist in the program based on their unique talents and individual stage of development. Each Summer, Festival Artists from the program are also prominently featured in each opera production, and perform in a wide variety of concerts and master classes.
This summer, Opera Saratoga has shifted its mentorship of emerging singers, pianists, conductors, and directors online in response to COVID-19. For ten weeks, from early June through mid-August, 32 artists (www.operasaratoga.org/2020-young-artists) will participate in a tuition-free online program, OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! MENTORSHIP, which includes private coaching, master classes, and professional development seminars. Core faculty will include Rogers and Edelson, along with music staff Brian DeMaris, Djordje Nesic, and Dean Williamson.
OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! DAILY
Beginning Sunday, June 7th, OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! DAILY will feature performances by Festival Artists, premiering every morning at 9:00am on Opera Saratoga's Facebook page as well as on Opera Saratoga's website. Each month is dedicated to a different theme, drawn from some of the programming that had to be cancelled as part of the originally planned 2020 Summer Festival:
June will feature OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! DAILY G&S - arias and ensembles from the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, including excerpts from The Pirates of Penzance, which had been scheduled to open the 2020 Festival.
July will feature OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! DAILY BEETHOVEN - art song - including many of Beethoven's beloved settings of folk melodies from around the world - and scenes from Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, will be featured as part of the world's celebration of the 250th birthday of the great composer.
August will feature OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! DAILY SONDHEIM - songs and ensembles from musicals by Stephen Sondheim, who just celebrated his 90th birthday this year.
CONNECT! DAILY performances will begin on Sunday, June 7th, and will premiere every morning at 9:00am EDT. Videos will remain online for future viewing at the following links: www.operasaratoga.org/connect-daily or www.facebook.com/OperaSaratoga/
OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! TRIVIA
Every Tuesday evening at 7:00pm EDT throughout the months of June, July and August, Opera Saratoga will release a new OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! TRIVIA quiz on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/OperaSaratoga/
Each quiz will be open for 24 hours and will feature a unique combination of questions to test music lovers' knowledge of opera, past and present. The quizzes are also a great way to expand your knowledge of opera, with questions that include opera history, production history, details on composers, librettists, directors, designers, and performers, and will also include musical identification questions like Name That Tune and Name the Singer. And every week, the person who gets the highest score will win a prize! Note, you do not need to have a Facebook account to participate, but will need to log in to the application to gain access to the free quizzes.
OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! KIDS
Opera Saratoga is focusing on the youngest of music lovers with its new CONNECT! KIDS initiative. Based on the "First Steps in Music" series by master music pedagogue, Dr. John Feierabend, CONNECT! KIDS provides parents and children with an interactive class to take together. Much of the instruction will be geared toward parents helping support children in music-making, and will provide a new repertoire of musical games and activities to do with their children on their own.
OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! KIDS will be taught by a distinguished alumna of Opera Saratoga's Festival Artist program, soprano Sydney Anderson. In addition to being an accomplished singer, Sydney is a certified K-12 Music Educator with over ten years of experience teaching music to children, and holds additional certifications in First Steps in Music and Kindermusik. Classes will be split into two groups: one for children 6 months to 2 years of age; and another for children 3 to 6 years old. Registration will be prioritized for residents of Saratoga Springs, the lower Adirondack, and Capital Regions of New York State. Classes are capped at 9 children per session.
CONNECT! KIDS 6 months - 2 years old: Classes are 25 minutes long
Wednesdays @ 10:30am EDT, beginning June 17th
CONNECT! KIDS 3 - 6 years old: Classes are 30 minutes long
Wednesdays @ 1:00pm EDT, beginning June 17th
The first session for OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! KIDS will begin on Wednesday, June 17th, and will run for 8 weeks, ending Wednesday, August 5th. The cost for the 8-week series of classes is $95, however, to ensure accessibility, limited scholarships are available for families who have been financially impacted by COVID-19.
Registration information for the CONNECT! KIDS classes may be found at www.operasaratoga.org/connect-kids
OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! CLASSES
Opera Saratoga launches CONNECT! CLASSES with two different, 8-week online classes: Opera is a Laughing Matter (on Wednesdays, from June 17th - August 5th) and Great Singers on Singing (on Wednesdays, from August 12th to September 30th):
OPERA IS A LAUGHING MATTER: Led by Cori Ellison
June 17 - August 5, 2020: 7pm - 8:30pm EDT
Opera has a reputation for being dark, gloomy, often tragic. Yet some of opera's greatest classics are sparkling comedies, or are works where comedy and drama are juxtaposed to stunning effect. Join internationally renowned dramaturg Cori Ellison (New York City Opera, Glyndebourne, Santa Fe Opera) for a romp through some of opera's sunniest, funniest comedies, including a deep-dive into Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart/Da Ponte), L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti/Romani); Falstaff (Verdi/Boito); Gianni Schicchi (Puccini/Forzano), Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck/Wette); The Pirates of Penzance (Sullivan/Gilbert); and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Britten/Shakespeare, Britten & Pears).
GREAT SINGERS ON SINGING: Led by Lawrence Edelson
August 12 - September 30, 2020: 7pm - 8:30pm EDT
Inspired by the classic book Great Singers on Great Singing, edited by bass Jerome Hines, this class will explore the technique of singing, as seen through the experience (and voices) of some of the greatest artists from the 20th century featured in Hines' book, alongside some of today's most famous stars. Each class will feature a guest singer, who will select a singer from the past that he or she admires. Together, we will listen to historic recordings of the selected singer, and dive into the way they approached vocal technique. Then, we will enjoy recordings made by our guest of the week and will discuss how their technical approach to singing is similar - or different - from the singer they admire. Featured guests to be announced!
Each class runs for 8 weeks, and tuition is $95. Members of the Opera Saratoga Guild receive a $25 discount off tuition. Limited full scholarships are also available for those interested in participating who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Registration information may be found at www.operasaratoga.org/connect-classes
OPERA SARATOGA: CONNECT! SYMPOSIA
Starting in July, Opera Saratoga will offer a free CONNECT! SYMPOSIUM every month on a special topic, featuring a panel of industry experts from around the globe. The first two symposia for July and August have been announced, with additional events forthcoming:
OPERA AND RACE
Part I: Monday, July 20th - 7:00pm - 8:30pm EDT
Part II: Tuesday, July 21st - 7:00pm - 8:30pm EDT
It's not surprising that some of opera's most beloved canonical works struggle to find relevance with contemporary audiences due to racist elements that we cannot and should not ignore. But race and opera is more complicated than simply addressing repertoire from the past. The way opera is produced today often continues to reinforce racist stereotypes and practices that we must face head-on if opera is truly to represent the world we live in, and for opera companies to create equitable, diverse, and inclusive homes for artists and audiences alike. This symposium will explore a number of issues including racial representation in the canonical repertoire; production practices including blackface, yellowface, and stereotypical physicalizations associated with certain ethnic groups; casting and staffing within opera houses; and the development of new works. Guest speakers to be announced.
Part I: Monday, August 17th - 7:00pm - 8:30pm EDT
Part II: Tuesday, August 18th - 7:00pm - 8:30pm EDT
Nothing in Beethoven's career caused as much effort and heartbreak as the composition of his only opera, which took ten years, inspired four different overtures, and underwent two major revisions and a name change before convincing Beethoven that he was not a man of the theater. Even after the opera's public success, he notoriously complained that "this whole opera business is the most tiresome affair in the world." But Fidelio is an extraordinary piece, and a testament to Beethoven's core beliefs: liberty, justice, personal sacrifice, and heroism. Our symposium on Fidelio will be led by Dramaturg Cori Ellison, who will guide us in an exploration of French rescue opera, Beethoven's blueprint for Fidelio; the three versions of the opera we know today; and all those overtures! The symposium will also look at the recorded legacy of Fidelio, and explore the challenges of Beethoven's vocal writing, in a panel with some of the most distinguished interpreters of the opera's notoriously difficult roles, including soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet and tenor Paul Groves. The symposium will also feature short performances from this magnificent and unforgettable opera by Opera Saratoga's Festival Artists and alumni.
Registration for each free symposium will be available online at www.operasaratoga.org/connect-symposia four weeks prior to each event.